A Trifecta of What’s Best on the Box for Sunday 7 January 2018

If it started a titch later, the terrific mystery two-hander starring two of England’s greatest actors – Sir Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine in the original Sleuth (7.55am FoxClas) – would certainly have made the cut, though probably in the last slot.

Today’s Number One Film:

No Country for Old Men, 7.30pm Paramount Channel BEST FILM OF THE DAY. Watch this if you liked Apocalypse Now, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada or any film by Sam Peckinpah. Part thriller, part Western, as upsetting as it is intriguing, this modern-day drug money heist flick is Cormac McCarthy’s bleak 2005 novel brought to life. It was a natural fit for the Coen Bros’ dark humour and deadpan violence, but it is so overwhelmingly hopeless, it discourages anyone from declaring it their best film yet (though it probably is). Relentless as thriller, hard as nails as crime film, draining as drama and despairing in its artistic perspective, it is almost completely loyal to its source; and the film leaves the viewer as bewilderingly satisfied and distressed as the book does the reader. It takes far more than it gives and is not for those seeking distraction; but, as provocative art, it is undeniable, unassailable and almost ummatched.Directed by the Coen Bros/2007/ USA/ Suspense-Crime-Drama- Thriller/ 122 mins/ Rated R for strong graphic violence and some language.

Also watch:

*Groundhog Day, 11.50am Fox Movies. Watch this if you liked The Truman Show, Forrest Gump or Hugo. Groundhog Day was the turning point in Bill Murray’s career, the first time audiences could see the stinging talent for character acting that led to his magical performances in the offbeat The Life Aquatic and the otherwise boring Lost in Translation. Groundhog Day is far, far better than either of those. Buddhists revere it and even Hollywood critics concede it is an intelligent, penetrating comedy with more than a little to say on the human condition; and the belly laughs are there in abundance. Murray is amazing and the rest of the cast uniformly excellent. This, their sixth collaboration, was Murray’s last film with Ramis; if neither has gone on to top it, it is because it reached so high. Unstintingly recommended. Directed by Harold Ramis/ 1993/ USA/ Comedy/ 102 mins/ Rated PG-13.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin, 12.55 midday HBO Plus. Watch this if you liked We’re the Millers, This is 40 or The Hangover. The 40-Year-Old Virgin is a really good movie despite the several (and severe) limitations of its setup and genres: it’s a romantic comedy, a buddy sex comedy predicated on an old, tired cliché that ought not to work at all; and it’s relentlessly, unapologetically lighthearted. Yet it’s a great film, both as a piece of entertainment and distraction, and as a piece of work. It’s a remarkable achievement. There are more laughs in The 40-Year-Old Virgin than in Sideways, Meet the Parents and Animal House combined. And here’s the real delight: they are not stupid, but clever. The chest hair-waxing scene alone is worth the price of admission. As a special Trini lagniappe, Gerry Bednob, the “Pakistani” sales clerk, who steals every scene he’s in, is from Trinidad. Heartily recommended for anyone without a stiff upper lip.Amazingly, this is the first time it has ever been picked by this incarnation of BC on TV. Directed by Judd Apatow/ 2005/ USA/ Comedy-Romance/ 132 mins/ Rated R for pervasive sexual content & language and some drug use.

Just Nosed Out:

*Black Mass (Bio-Crime-Drama), 10.30am HBO2; *The Shallows (Action-Creature Horror), 11am MaxP; 3.10 to Yuma (Classic Glenn Ford Western), 6pm FoxClas; Killshot (Elmore Leonard Crime-Thriller), 5.25pm Prmt; **Manchester by the Sea (Drama), 3.35pm Max; Disturbia (Young Adult-Thriller), 6.50pm Stun.

Also Ran:

Action/Adventure: *The Jungle Book (Animated-Family), 6.17pm HBOF.

Animated/Family: Toy Story, 8.10am HBOC.

Arthouse/Independent/Cult: Black Swan, 10pm FxMv.

Biography/Documentary: I am Heath Ledger, 12 midday DTV.

Classic: Sleuth (Mystery-Drama), 7.55am FoxClas.

Comedy: 48 HRS (Action-Crime), 8am Prmt; Superbad (Stoner), 10.55am HBOP.

Drama: The Wolf of Wall Street (Comedy), 7.46pm HBOP.

Foreign: *Night Train to Lisbon (English-language German Drama-Thriller), 12.10 midday FoxCin.

Horror: 30 Days of Night, 10.10am HBOP; 10 Cloverfield Land, 5.05pm FoxMov.

Sci-fi/Fantasy: **King Kong, 8.20am HBO.

Thriller: Deadpool (Superhero) 3.20pm FoxMov & 7.15pm FoxCom.

War: Dunkirk (DirecTV PPV).

Western: Broken Arrow (James Stewart), 9pm FoxClas.

*Starred films have been picked in the last year.**Double-starred films have been picked in the last two months.***Triple-starred films were picked last week.

Particularly strong Also Ran films are bolded.

Please verify times.Advance Internet scheduled times can be wrong, especially at month-end.